St.12 American History Project
By James Crow
First Abolitionist Societies
Quakers Abolition Protests
The first public protest by Quakers against slavery took place in 1688 in Germantown, Pennsylvania when a group of German Quakers of Pietist origins drew up a formal remonstrance against the notion that one person can own another, the so-called 'Germantown Protest'. It said in part: 'Now, tho' they are black, we cannot conceive there is more liberty to have them slaves, as it is to have other white ones...And those who steal or rob men, and those who buy or purchase them, are they not all alike?'
In 1696 Pennsylvania Yearly Meeting of Quakers made the first official, corporate pronouncement against the slave trade when it wrote a minute urging Quaker merchants and traders to 'write abroad to their correspondents that they send no more Negroes to be disposed of' [sold]. Between 1674 and around 1710, many Maryland Quakers freed their slaves, either by wills or deeds of manumission. But many others continued to hold and trade in slaves and the institution of slavery became a divided issue amongst Friends.
Importants of Northwest Ordinance 1787
The banning of slavery in the territory had the effect of establishing the Ohio River as the boundary between free and slave territory in the region between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi River. This division helped set the stage for the balancing act between free and slave states that was the basis of a critical political question in American politics in the 19th century until the Civil War.
Rise of the Underground Rail Road
The most active of the Railroad workers were northern free blacks, who had little or no support from white abolitionists. The most famous “conductor,” an escaped slave named Harriet Tubman, reportedly made nineteen return trips to the South; she helped some three hundred slaves escape. A number of individual whites also aided runaways, as did “vigilance committees,” often biracial in character, in northern cities.